Six candidates are vying for two open seats on the Southern Ute Tribal Council.
This year, Southern Ute tribal members will choose between an incumbent, former council members and several newcomers on election day, which will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at 285 Lakin St. in Ignacio. Candidates competing for a spot on the council are Marjorie Barry, James Olguin, Conrad Thompson, John Washington, Ramona Eagle and Adam Red. Top issues this election season include financial planning, economic investments, member benefits, health care and Ute language education.
“Past leadership has brought us to where we are today,” said Olguin, a former vice chairman and interim chairman on the council, in his candidate statement published in the Southern Ute Drum. “We must continue the progress to move us further into the future in an accountable and responsible manner that will benefit us all.”
The council members make decisions that affect the 16 government departments, which include courts, education, health care, natural resources, among others. The council has seven members who serve three-year terms. Candidates have to be at least 25 years old, pass a background check and live on the reservation for at least 90 days, according to the tribe’s constitution.
Olguin called for unification within the council, entrepreneurship resources for tribal membership, health care programs focused on healthful food, financial frugality and prioritizing future growth.
Barry, the executive office manager for the Tribal Health Department, has worked in several roles in the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and executive administrative roles within the tribe, according to her candidate statement. She is focusing on prioritizing Ute language education, opposing the decreasing Bureau of Land Management services, updating the tribe’s financial plan and addressing shortfalls in the tribal credit program.
Thompson, owner of Painted Horse Designs, is focused on tribal finances, the cost of living and members benefiting from the tribal economy, according to his candidate statement. He suggested expanding the tribe’s investments into the video game industry, technology companies and the farm-to-table market.
Washington has been employed in service positions within the tribe, most recently the elder service driver. He called on tribal members to participate more actively in tribal government and for the tribal government to invest in Ute language education programs, he said in an interview.
“If you feel you have been misrepresented like I have at times – it is our obligation to work together to change that outcome,” his statement said.
Eagle, retired, is a former council member and currently serves on several boards or committees in the area. In an interview, she focused on unity within the tribe, managing tribal assets to benefit the tribe now and into the future, and balancing business, cultural and traditional priorities. She advocated for home loans for tribal members who live off the reservation and Ute language education.
Red, who joined the tribal council in 2016, did not provide a candidate statement, according to the Southern Ute Drum. In 2017, he joined the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee, according to Native News Online. He has worked in several positions within the tribe, most recently as a GIS specialist for the Southern Ute Growth Fund, according to his LinkedIn profile.